She has been the reason for Ramesh and Nimya's smile all these years. Nimy a could not conceive again after Rani's birth.
They had brought her up as their son. Being from a small village in Haryana, they made sure she was educated like any other boy in the village. People had raised eyebrows when they allowed her to go out of village for further studies. Girls are not educated in this part - she should have been married by now. She is just 17.
'Papa, one day I will shut everyone's mouth. I will top the village this year.'
‘We know beta, you will bring us all the happiness and make us proud one day like you have so far,' Ramesh said with a pride in his voice.
Life is not that simple. Goals are not achieved so easily. People are not the writer of their stories.
In school, Rani met Sumit. An instant connection. Sumit was from a different village and had just joined school. They fell in love in no time.
Sometimes we don't think about the results of our actions. People rightly say - Love is blind. It makes you not see the obvious. In the process of falling for Sumit, Rani forgot that she is from a place where people have made life of her parents difficult because she was sent out to study and now she had made up her mind to decide for her future – her marriage. Sumit was not only from a different village but also from different caste.
'Do you think our parents will say yes for us?’ Rani asked before leaving for vacations.
'There is no other option for them. Can you live with someone else?' Sumit raised his voice to get a clear answer.
'No, I can't', she said softly.
'Then just remember, either we live together or we don't live', he said making it very clear to her.
After returning home, she was always trying to find a chance to talk about Sumit. One day she had to. Ramesh had started searching boys for her.
'Papa, I need to tell you something?' her voice was dry.
'Yes, beta. Do you need anything?’ A proud father asked.
'Actually, there is a boy...'
Ramesh was praying not to listen what he feared all this while.
'We love each other, he is from nearby village and different caste', she said with a choked voice.
'Rani, you said enough. We don't discuss marriages with daughters. You have learnt too much in city. I am already too proud of you. Just remember, you either live with the boy of our choice or don't live at all.'
'I can't live without him.'
He left with those words still echoing in his ears.
Sumit had come to meet her as he promised. She told him everything. From her tone he got a feeling she has given up already.
He was furious.
'I still mean what I said', he reminded her of their decision before vacations.
He told her he would be staying back tonight. They could meet tomorrow also.
It was dark that night. But not darker than the morning which was to follow.
In the morning, there was huge gathering in front of Ramesh’s house. Some people were happy others were mocking.
Rani was on the ground soaked in blood in front of her house.
Few steps away was a father in tears, few steps further was a boy in tears. She would have had tears in her eyes just before she was dying - so many dreams were left dreams.
Who killed her?
A girl who wanted to make her father proud and live with her love?
Or a boy who loved her and couldn’t live without her but also couldn’t see her with someone else?
Or a father for whom she was everything for the past 18 years?